Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Information for patients
The latest national advice and guidance is available at: www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Hospital Visiting Restrictions
Visiting will continue to be restricted in hospitals and healthcare settings across Worcestershire.
Restrictions to visiting were introduced at the end of March in response to the Covid-19 outbreak to help protect patients and staff and to minimise the spread of infection. Although local cases remain low, healthcare leaders from across the county have decided to stick with the current restrictions, with the following very limited exceptions:
- For maternity patients – a visit by a birthing partner only (birthing partners are also able to be present during the birth)
Visit the maternity pages for more information on maternity visiting restrictions
- For paediatric patients – a visit by one parent only
- For patients nearing the end of their lives – two visitors only
- For Patients with Dementia and Learning Difficulties - their Carers may visit after discussing the Nurse in charge of the ward
We are also asking patients who are coming in for an appointment not to bring anyone else into the hospital with them.
These restrictions have not been imposed lightly, but we believe they are necessary to keep the people who have to be in our hospitals as safe as possible from the risk of infection. We thank our patients and their loved ones for their understanding and support
Inpatients in our hospitals can make free outgoing calls on the Hospedia bedside units, 24 hours a day to landlines and mobiles. There is no limit on the duration of the call.
Guidance for visitors – face coverings
From Monday 15 June 2020, in line with Government recommendations we are asking outpatients and visitors to wear a face covering at all times when visiting our hospitals
Wearing a face covering will help to limit the spread of Covid-19.
There are lots of different possible styles of facemask, but you may find the following general guidance of use
- An effective face covering should cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably
- You should wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and taking it off
- When wearing the face covering, you should avoid touching your face at all times
- You should also follow other infection control safety measures when visiting our hospitals, including social distancing and regular hand washing.
- Surgical face masks are acceptable, but are not necessary; a face covering can be as simple as a scarf, cloth mask or bandanna.
Whilst we ask visitors to wear face coverings in our hospitals for the protection of themselves, patients and our staff, we realise that not all people are able to tolerate wearing a mask. The following groups do not need to wear a face covering when visiting our hospitals:
- Young children under the age of 3
- Anyone with anatomical difficulties that would make wearing a face mask impossible or painful e.g. facial injuries
- People with breathing difficulties
- Anyone who experiences severe discomfort or distress while wearing a face mask e.g. those with severe claustrophobia
- Anyone unable to remove their mask without assistance.
A member of staff will be available at the door to help answer any questions you have.
Advice for patients attending an outpatient appointment
Virtual Visiting - allowing patients to have vital contact with their nearest and dearest via Facetime and Skype - is now up and running at the Alexandra and Worcestershire Royal Hospitals, thanks to the donation of over 130 iPads.
The iPads have been donated by various businesses and charities, including Network Rail, the Friends of Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Worcestershire Health and Care Trust and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Charity. The Trust has also received funding for iPad mobile carts and iPad stands to make them suitable for use in areas such as Intensive Care.
If you would like to organise a call with a loved one please contact the ward directly to organise a time.
Opportunity for relatives, carers and friends to have small gifts and personal belongings delivered to their loved ones on wards
With all but essential visiting suspended at our hospitals, we have set up a new delivery service where relatives and carers can bring in gifts and personal belongings for their loved ones who are inpatients on our wards.
The delivery service will use our volunteers along with security staff to provide a service where relatives and carers can drop-off personal belongings and gifts, for delivery to inpatients.
Guidance for items to be brought in:
- Dropped off at main reception to Security between 10:00 -12:00 Monday-Friday for the volunteers to collect
- Items must be inside a clear plastic bag
- Bag must be clearly labelled with the patient's name and ward
- Non-valuable items only (Any items deemed valuable will be refused by security).
On the handover of items, a volunteer will read out a disclaimer to make it clear that “The Trust will not accept responsibility or liability for patient’s valuables or personal property brought into the Health Service premises”. If at any point security is not satisfied with the safety of the items the bag will not be accepted.
Ward staff will also be sharing information on this service to relatives, carers and patients, to ensure that this service can be used by as many people as possible.
We hope this service brings additional support and comfort to patients, relatives and carers at this difficult time.
A guide for children coming into hospital for an operation during Covid-19
Patients who wish to access the free WiFi during their stay will need to sign up by filling in their details on the free WiFi landing page. Choose “NHS Wi-Fi” in WiFi settings on a smartphone, tablet or laptop to access the landing page.
Letters from Home
As all but essential visiting has been suspended on our hospital sites during the ongoing coronavirus situation, we’d like to make it easier for you to keep in touch with your friends or family members while they’re in hospital.
Many patients will be able to pick up the phone and call or message their friends and family members themselves. However not all will be able to do this.
If you would like to post a letter, please address the envelope ‘Letters from Home’, followed by the relevant hospital name, then the ward name, and postal address.
- At the beginning of your letter or message, please list
- The patient’s full name
- The patient’s date of birth or address, if known
- The hospital site and ward
- We will only accept messages addressed to specific patients from their family members or friends. We will not accept letters addressed to an anonymous patient, and will be unable to pass them on
- Please note, email is not a guaranteed secure method of communication. Personal or sensitive information is sent by email at the sender’s own risk.
- Matrons will deliver your letter to the ward. If the patient is well enough, they can read it themselves. If not, a member of hospital staff will read it to them.
- We will acknowledge the receipt of your letter or message if you send it by email, but we will not be able to confirm if that message has been read. However if there is a problem in identifying the patient or delivering the letter we will let you know.
Patient and Relative Support line
Is your partner, family member or loved one in a Worcestershire Acute NHS Hospital and you need emotional support?
Are you a patient and you need emotional support?
The Patient and Relative Support Helpline is here to listen.
- A listening ear
Call us on 0300 303 3544 to speak to the support team.
The patient and relative support line is an extension of our Chaplaincy service and offers 24/7 emotional support and a listening ear to any patient in our hospitals at this difficult time, or for their relatives. Manned by our Chaplaincy team and a team of committed chaplaincy volunteers, it is a confidential service which we hope can give comfort if and when it may be needed.
A message to our volunteers
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and for so many of you keeping us updated about whether you are coming in to volunteer.
We are in unprecedented and uncertain times and it is important that we keep you updated with the latest information.
We are advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.
This group includes those who are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant
Please note: there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, NHS England will directly contact you with advice about the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe.
We are sure that you will understand when we ask that anyone with symptoms of suspected Coronavirus to please not come in to our hospitals. We also ask that anyone living in a household with someone who is presenting with symptoms of a temperature and/or the onset of a persistent cough to please self-isolate for 14 days.
We ask that if you are at all concerned for yourself or for others that you do not volunteer. Your safety and the safety of our patients and staff is of the utmost importance to us.
Thank you on behalf of our hospital trust.
Privacy notice on Covid-19 for Patients and Service Users - 14/04/20
This notice describes how we may use your information to protect you and others during the Covid-19 outbreak. It supplements our main Privacy Notice which is available here.
The health and social care system is facing significant pressures due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Health and care information is essential to deliver care to individuals, to support health and social care services and to protect public health. Information will also be vital in researching, monitoring, tracking and managing the outbreak. In the current emergency it has become even more important to share health and care information across relevant organisations.
Existing law which allows confidential patient information to be used and shared appropriately and lawfully in a public health emergency is being used during this outbreak. Using this law the Secretary of State has required NHS Digital; NHS England and Improvement; Arms Length Bodies (such as Public Health England); local authorities; health organisations and GPs to share confidential patient information to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak. Any information used or shared during the Covid-19 outbreak will be limited to the period of the outbreak unless there is another legal basis to use the data. Further information is available on gov.uk here and some FAQs on this law are available here.
During this period of emergency, opt-outs will not generally apply to the data used to support the Covid-19 outbreak, due to the public interest in sharing information. This includes National Data Opt-outs. However in relation to the Summary Care Record, existing choices will be respected. Where data is used and shared under these laws your right to have personal data erased will also not apply. It may also take us longer to respond to Subject Access requests, Freedom of Information requests and new opt-out requests whilst we focus our efforts on responding to the outbreak.
In order to look after your health and care needs we may share your confidential patient information including health and care records with clinical and non clinical staff in other health and care providers, for example neighbouring GP practices, hospitals, pharmacies and NHS 111. We may also use the details we have to send public health messages to you, either by phone, text or email. If your care is transferred to another organisation we will share your health data to support your continued care.
During this period of emergency we may offer you a consultation via telephone or video-conferencing. By accepting the invitation and entering the consultation you are consenting to this. Your personal/confidential patient information will be safeguarded in the same way it would with any other consultation.
We will also be required to share personal/confidential patient information with health and care organisations and other bodies engaged in disease surveillance for the purposes of protecting public health, providing healthcare services to the public and monitoring and managing the outbreak. Further information about how health and care data is being used and shared by other NHS and social care organisations in a variety of ways to support the Covid-19 response is here.
NHS England and Improvement and NHSX have developed a single, secure store to gather data from across the health and care system to inform the Covid-19 response. This includes data already collected by NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England and NHS Digital. New data will include 999 call data, data about hospital occupancy and A&E capacity data as well as data provided by patients themselves. All the data held in the platform is subject to strict controls that meet the requirements of data protection legislation.
In such circumstances where you tell us you’re experiencing Covid-19 symptoms we may need to collect specific health data about you. Where we need to do so, we will not collect more information than we require and we will ensure that any information collected is treated with the appropriate safeguards.
We may amend this privacy notice at any time so please review it frequently.